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cudgel (one's) brains

To try very hard to comprehend, solve, think of, or remember something. I was up all night cudgeling my brains for a way to pay off all my debts. She cudgeled her brains to remember the man's name.
See also: brain, cudgel

take up (the) cudgels against (someone or something)

To prepare for or engage in a conflict against someone or something. May or may not refer to literally arming oneself. People from across the country are taking up the cudgels against the dictatorship. We have to be willing to take up the cudgels if we ever want to loosen the grip of these greedy corporations.
See also: cudgel, take, up

take up the cudgels (for/on behalf of someone or something)

To defend, show strong support for, or argue on behalf of someone or something. People from across the country are taking up cudgels on behalf of the young man being held by police. He's got plenty of money to hire a proper legal team. I don't think he needs the likes of us taking up the cudgels.
See also: behalf, cudgel, of, on, someone, take, up

take up arms (against someone or something)

to prepare to fight against someone or something. Everyone in the town took up arms against the enemy. They were all so angry that the leader convinced them to take up arms.
See also: arm, take, up

rack one's brain

Also, cudgel one's brains. Strain to remember or find a solution, as in I've been racking my brain trying to recall where we put the key, or He's been cudgeling his brains all day over this problem. The first term, first recorded in 1583 as rack one's wit, alludes to the rack that is an instrument of torture, on which the victim's body was stretched until the joints were broken. The variant, from the same period, uses cudgel in the sense of "beat with a cudgel" (a short thick stick). Shakespeare used it in Hamlet (5:1): "Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not bend his pace with beating." Also see beat one's brains out.
See also: brain, rack

take up arms

Also, take up the cudgels. Become involved in a conflict, either physical or verbal, as in The Kurds took up arms against the Iranians at least two centuries ago, or Some believe it's the vice-president's job to take up the cudgels for the president. The first term originated in the 1400s in the sense of going to war. The variant, alluding to cudgels as weapons, has been used figuratively since the mid-1600s and is probably obsolescent.
See also: arm, take, up

take up the cudgels


take up the cudgel

If you take up the cudgels for someone or take up the cudgel for them, you speak or fight in support of them. The trade unions took up the cudgels for the 367 staff who were made redundant. We are hoping that the government will take up the cudgel on our behalf. Note: A cudgel was a short, thick stick that was used as a weapon in the past.
See also: cudgel, take, up

cudgel your brain (or brains)

think hard about a problem.
This expression was used by Shakespeare in Hamlet: ‘Cudgel thy brains no more about it’.
See also: brain, cudgel

take up the cudgels

start to support someone or something strongly.
See also: cudgel, take, up

take up the ˈcudgels for somebody/something


take up the cudgels on behalf of somebody/something

(old-fashioned, written) start to defend or support somebody/something: The local newspapers have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the woman who was unfairly dismissed from her job because she was pregnant.
A cudgel is a short thick stick that is used as a weapon.

take up the cudgels

To join in a dispute, especially in defense of a participant.
See also: cudgel, take, up

cudgel one's brains, to

To think hard; to make a vigorous attempt to solve or answer some question, or to remember something. The verb “to cudgel” means to beat with a cudgel (a short thick stick). Possibly the allusion here is to thrashing a schoolboy for failing to answer promptly or correctly. The word “cudgel” is hardly ever heard anymore except in this context, which dates from before 1600. Shakespeare had a clown say to another who was puzzling over a riddle, “Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating” (Hamlet, 5.1). See also beat one's brains; rack one's brain.
See also: cudgel
References in periodicals archive ?
'Instead, they will use the cudgel of the Parliament Act to crush any point of view other than their own.
As Oscar, all twinkling feet and panache around the box, became the new darling of Stamford Bridge, the caveman's cudgel was often a blunt instrument.
But it's not just Romney's Democratic opponents who have sought to use his faith as cudgel to pummel his political prospects.
I wonder whether somewhere on Teesside we have a solicitor who, on a no-win-no-fee basis of course, would take up the cudgel on behalf of we loyal Boro supporters.
If they don't take up the cudgel on this issue, they are either trying to loose the election or they are out of touch with reality.
He said: "It is time for someone to take up the cudgel and fight for local people on local issues."
The woman appeared to be aged about 20 and had suffered terrible injuries to the head, perhaps inflicted by a cudgel.
I HAVE taken up the cudgel against the appalling language on television and the attitude of the Broadcasting Standards Council.
Both are ridden by 3lb claimer Lindsay Charnock as English Export takes the apprentice race from Welsh Steel (Michael Kauntze/Mick Kinane) and Flash Fire trounces Cudgel (Pat Rohan/Tony Kimberley) in the seven-furlong heat.
With Michael Ancram gone Ronnie is just the cat to take up his cudgel.
For Kimball and Stephen, apparently, the only criticism worthy of mention comes at the business end of a cudgel. This is a doctrine as ugly as it is ignorant.
Once he's left Atlanta and headed for Charleston, Naipaul drops his cudgel and allows himself to be romanced by the "order and faith, music and melancholy" of the remnants of plantation culture.
Let's hope our political leaders will take up the cudgel and we can move towards resolving this very messy situation before the next election.
But with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and increasing desperation, even in university humanities departments, among leftists hoping to sketch a socialism with a human face, Barber's brand of progressive politics is attracting favorable notice from those in need of a new cudgel with which to pummel free markets and globalization.
Mic Cheetham said: "There are a few other well-known Iain Bankses, such as a glamour photographer, and if mine doesn't take a cudgel to this Hogarth chap, I can't say if some of them will be so kind."